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Old 12-21-2005   #1
Mike Grehan
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Moderator Note: Thread split from Getting Out Of Google Sandbox Using Subdomain & Redirection

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveN
Mike Grehan, said '...the sandbox doesn't exist...'. ... Nope that was me ... we where on the same panel ...
Tut, tut, tut...

Yes I did say the sandbox doesn't exist Dave.

And I've said it at every session at every conference (dozens of them this year), since whichever "I don't understand marketing" nitwit came up with this half-baked theory about nothing, which never affects a well marketed business.

In fact, insofar as the Chicago panel is concerned, I actually said it here, before the session:

http://www.mikegrehan.com/2005/12/sa...gerank-is.html

I said it here in my ClickZ column, after the conference:

http://www.clickz.com/experts/search...le.php/3569996

And I'll say it again... If your web site doesn't rank anywhere at all at a search engine - it's probably because it has no differentiating appeal or simply because it sucks.

What you actually need is called advertising and promotion and it has nothing to do with code of any kind, or subdomains or servers, or...

Here's a tip I'd like to pass on for Christmas. Don't read anymore of this thread or any others about this ridiculous notion of a sandbox.

Buy a good book on marketing instead.

Happy reading, happy holidays and all the best for the new year.

Last edited by dannysullivan : 12-22-2005 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 12-21-2005   #2
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Mike, I'd like to respond to that with a conditional "I agree".

There is no Google sandbox, at least as it is thought of by many people.

Well, there is, but people play beach volleyball on it over at the Googleplex. I've been there, and I'm willing to sell you, dear reader, a vial of genuine Google Sandbox sand for only $19.95 + shipping. Yes! Own a piece of the sandbox now, just in time for Christmas! Buy N.. Oops, sorry. I've been writing too much sales content lately...

Anyway, there is an effect that some people are calling the sandbox, but frankly it reminds me of those so-called "syndromes" that are just excuses for medical papers and herbal marketing. Seems like nowadays there is a special "syndrome" for every war and police action that comes around, for example. At a certain point, over-labeling stops people from focusing on the real issues, which is the root cause in the first place.

Yes, there is an issue that shows up. But it's not some sort of attack on new webmasters. It's just that new websites are most vulnerable to it. Big deal. New websites are also vulnerable to "link dearth syndrome" (not enough links), "content deprecation syndrome" (not enough content) and so forth...

I'm not trying to sound insensitive, but the fact that the hurricane in NO harmed certain segments of US society more than others does not mean that God or mother nature is out to get those people specifically or punish them for some misdeed. They just happened to be more vulnerable to it's effects and were living in the wrong area. The blame, if any, lies elsewhere (probably as to why they were vulnerable in the first place). Blaming it on some personal attack by the weather gods won't do any good, and distracts from the real issues and solutions.

Likewise, the effects you see that can be described as the Google sandbox apply to all sites, but some are much more vulnerable than others due to a lack of historical data, among other things.

I was sloppy in using the term earlier because I knew everyone in this thread knew what I was referring to. But anyone thinking of this as an attack by Google on new sites will not be in a mental position to figure out how to deal with the effects.

If it was an attack, how come there are so many exceptions? How come you can be placed into a "sandbox" even if you have an old site if you mess around with redirects the wrong way?

Nope, that's backward thinking. There are real issues, but most people who are feeling victimized are blaming the wrong thing for the wrong reason, IMO.

Additionally, as with all the other major buzz phrase syndromes and filters in the industry, some people with, let's face it, crappy sites and a tendency to refuse to take personal responsibility for things, have latched onto this as the root cause of all their problems. If you can blame the sandbox, well, I guess it's better than blaming yourself!

On a completely different topic, I'd like to announce that I've discovered "link prophylactic syndrome", whereby some links (especially paid ones) don't seem to work the way some people expect them to.

This is obviously a vicious attack on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and is intended to punish new website owners and innocent spammers by taking away their livelihood, and just before x-mas yet! Together we can find a cure. Donations can be made to.. Oops, there I go again....

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Last edited by mcanerin : 12-21-2005 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 12-21-2005   #3
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I'll try to strike the middle ground between Mike and Dave (who are both non sandbox believers, though Dave does see a sanbox effect) and those still hanging on to the idea of a sandbox period.

Is there a sandbox? Various people say no, including Google, in the sense that all sites must go to Coventry for a set period of time.

Is there a sandbox like effect? Yes, various marketers have seen this happen, and Google itself has said there are various filters that can cause a new site to have to sit in a waiting area, if it were.

Is there a great deal of confusion? Yes. To me, the idea of a sandbox has become the latest run in excuses for why a site doesn't necessarily do well, the universal truth trotted out for everything regardless of whether it really exists.

We've had years of this. Oh, the site's not ranking well because search engines are now doing themes, which they never ever did and to my knowledge still do not do today. But building a "themed" site often meant people took a big site and divided into smaller ones, thus increasing the chance of getting more pages indexed. It also meant that they end up having a number of very targeted home pages, your most important page, rather than one single home page diluted on many topics. That also mean they got more links pointing at the home pages of their more targeted sites. And often, in the process of building their "theme" sites, they created BETTER content.

All of this had nothing to do with the traditional "theme" idea that a search engine would magically look at all of the pages in your web site and reward those that were more on a particular topic. It should have been blindingly obvious to anyone that search engines did not and still do not operate in this way, otherwise Amazon or Wikipedia would never rank for anything, since they lack any theme at all. But because the medicine you took to cure your "theme disease" showed an improvement, themes became a reality for many people.

Oh, my site's not doing well because of term vector stuff now being used. Oh, it's because LSI is now big. Oh, it's because the sandbox. In 2006, I'm sure we'll have some other smoke-and-mirrors type thing that will get trotted out.

If a site isn't ranking, that's not necesarily because of a sandbox effect. It's probably because of a variety of other reasons, but the sandbox is an easy excuse for people to blame or they blame without knowledge.

If it's a brand new site with but not really seeming to rank as well as you might expect, then *possibly* some of the sandbox effect people have reported and Google itself says exists might be to blame. But I think it's fair to say, the number of people who say they've been sandboxed far exceeds the actual capacity of the sandbox, virtual or real where volleyball is being played

Last edited by dannysullivan : 12-21-2005 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 12-21-2005   #4
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Ian,

Nice post. Allow me a little riposte or two here...

Quote:
New websites are also vulnerable to "link dearth syndrome" (not enough links), "content deprecation syndrome" (not enough content) and so forth...
Link dearth - usually one of two things:

a) Nobody's ever heard of you, so how do they know what to link to?

b) People have heard of you but there's no more reason to link to you than there is to anyone else in your sector.

As for, not enough content?

Try this at Google. Search for:

(single word) Currency

And then...

Currency converter

Change currency

Foreign currency

And other variations. At the top of the pile (one or two) you'll always find xe.com. It's ONE page, with little or no copy. Just a functional tool to use. How much more than that do they need to rank at number one for their specific keywords? NOW THAT'S CONTENT!

Okay.

Here's a challenge to the sandbox believers. Show me an international brand, like Virgin, for instance, which launches new sites for new brand extensions over and over, and gets involved in tactical promotions online, co-promotion, sponsorship and marketing of every kind... that ever got (so called) sandboxed.
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Old 12-21-2005   #5
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Quote:
Here's a challenge to the sandbox believers. Show me an international brand, like Virgin, for instance, which launches new sites for new brand extensions over and over, and gets involved in tactical promotions online, co-promotion, sponsorship and marketing of every kind... that ever got (so called) sandboxed.
They've got the massive traffic to begin with, which gives their new brand extensions enough oomph for usage statistics to go through the roof going out the gate.

Take the same type of promotion done by a non-major, non-international brand like Virgin and see how they fare without the initial traffic & usage impetus.

The rich get richer.
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Old 12-21-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
The rich get richer.
Correct, Marcia.

And how did they get rich in the first place?

Richard Branson started Virgin in a tiny little rented flat, above a furniture shop in London. Just like a brand new, tiny little web site, he had to grow his business out of nowhere.

He had vision and knew how to market himself and his business. And in my own experience, if you know how to create awareness campaigns and build brands, you succeed very well at search engines.

It’s not just a case of being available online – you have to be in demand. And that's a marketing exercise, not a technical process.
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Old 12-21-2005   #7
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Quote:
Richard Branson started Virgin in a tiny little rented flat, above a furniture shop in London. Just like a brand new, tiny little web site, he had to grow his business out of nowhere.
That he did, but I'd like to see him start from scratch like that today, without the benefit his newer properties can now derive from his older properties.

Quote:
Domain Name: virgin.com

Created on..............: Wed, Sep 10, 1997
Expires on..............: Mon, Sep 09, 2013
Record last updated on..: Fri, Jan 14, 2005
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Old 12-21-2005   #8
Mike Grehan
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Don't seem to remember seeing this one in the sandbox, at all. Do a search for Shayne Ward, this month's winner of the X factor in the UK

shayneward.org.uk
Registered on: 22-Nov-2005

Last edited by Mike Grehan : 12-21-2005 at 08:31 PM. Reason: wrong month.
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Old 12-21-2005   #9
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Mike,

Are you saying you never launched a site in the past year or so that had sandbox like symptoms?

I can tell you I have launched both types of sites; some that have no such affect and some that do.

I think the most critical issue is how people define the sandbox.

I would not say there is no sandbox. Possibly the first time I every argued with you, Mike. I have that feeling of shame, when writing this.
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Old 12-21-2005   #10
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I don't generally disagree with Mike either, but in this case, he's flat out wrong.

Quote:
And I'll say it again... If your web site doesn't rank anywhere at all at a search engine - it's probably because it has no differentiating appeal or simply because it sucks.
If you've ever worked on a brand new site in the past couple of years since the aging delay has been in effect, you would know for sure that there most definitely is an aging delay and the only way out of it is time (or apparently a few tricks that a few people are starting to learn).

If there were no sandbox, then the same techniques we were using years ago to get listed right away in Google would still get sites listed right away in google. Now, they definitely DO get listed in Google, but not until approximately 9 months have passed.

I didn't believe it either until I worked on a brand new site. I am lucky that I usually get to work on existing sites, in general. And I can tell you that as long as G continues to implement an aging delay on sites, I won't be working on any brand new domains.

It's just too frustrating. You can have the best site in the world, and Google will agree that it is indeed the best site, but only after 9 months or so have passed.

I understand why they do it, and I even agree with it in many respects, as any long term business proposition can certainly wait 9 months to see Google success.

But, there most definitely IS an aging delay, that is a fact.

I also agree with Danny that it's an easy excuse for many webmasters as well.

The sandbox isn't a penalty, it's simply an aging delay until trust can be established for a new domain.

Last edited by Jill Whalen : 12-21-2005 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 12-22-2005   #11
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Aside from the tongue-in-cheek tinfoil hat Adwords reference, this is why I continue to believe there's a significant traffic metric involved

http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum34/920.htm

Now, a few people have asked me about the thread I referenced in the MSN forum at WmW where the lady seems to have nailed it. I'll have to dig that out, but in short she's talking about using the Alexa Toolbar to do deep research to avoid the "sandbox effect."

And in another thread (which can no longer be found) she mentioned very clearly - keeping in mind that her main business site is years old and very heavily trafficked - that when her company launches new sites, they link from their established, heavy trafficked ones to give the new sites their jump-start. Heavy traffic going out the gate. No sandbox.

In view of what I'd posted about usage statistics in rankings a few months before, when I came across those posts (and others that are around by other people with sites with heavy traffic as well), it started to make even more sense. I'm no scholar, but it all seems to fit together.

What is the main thing that Alexa measures over time?

Added:

Quote:
Don't seem to remember seeing this one in the sandbox, at all. Do a search for Shayne Ward, this month's winner of the X factor in the UK

shayneward.org.uk
Registered on: 22-Nov-2005
Ah, the BUZZ factor. Significant buzz creates significantly heavy traffic (usage statistics), isn't that the case?

But being just a Yank from the left coast, I'm afraid I'll need a little help on this one, never having heard of Shayne Ward. May I ask what competitive commercial keywords that site is ranking for at Google?

Last edited by Marcia : 12-22-2005 at 03:02 AM.
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Old 12-22-2005   #12
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http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=WINNER+OF+X+FACTOR

hmmm whats is then ... BAD SEO .. so if you don't rank then it's bad seo

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Old 12-22-2005   #13
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I generally don't disagree with Mike either... and I believe in success the old fashioned way and all that, but, call it the "sandbox" or the "deep freeze" or "limbo" or whatever, there's a factor or a group of factors that works against new domains.

Like Jill, I believe I understand why Google's doing this. I disagree with her that it's "simply an aging delay"... I think it's probably a complicated delay, where several age-related factors multiply each other and look almost exponential when they do. But I do go along with the second part of her statement: "until trust can be established for a new domain." In some cases, sites may never establish this trust. In others, I think Google has some problems in not being able to evaluate what's trustworthy a lot faster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
I'm afraid I'll need a little help on this one, never having heard of Shayne Ward. May I ask what competitive commercial keywords that site is ranking for at Google?
Marcia - I'd never heard of Shayne Ward either. Apparently, he's the competitive phrase... there are 127,000 pages on Google with exact matches for his name.

I'm not sure that the Shayne search is a good illustration of what I think Mike is trying to demonstrate... that something brand new can rank with enough buzz and traffic. Because all the sites targeting Shayne are probably the same age, I think it's likely to be a pretty level playing field, but I don't know much about Shayne or these sites.

Quote:
X Factor winner Shayne Ward has set a new record for the fastest-selling single of 2005. Music retailers predict that Shayne's debut, That's My Goal, could be one of the fastest-selling singles ever....

...Woolworths said copies had flown off the shelves at seven times the rate of the previous fastest-selling 2005 single, the Crazy Frog.
And Matt Cutts had a college roommate whose site got lots of press and beat the non-existent sandbox too. In this country, we can all win the lottery, and we can all become President, and we all may have 15-minutes of fame... but let's not pretend that not being this exceptional always suggests the absence of merit or of marketing virtues. Agreed, there are some who are using the sandbox as a catch-all excuse. But I feel that the delay in ranking is all too often about collateral damage, and there are some extremely meritorious sites, companies, and organizations that are unfortunately being affected.

(Added... and DaveN's X-Factor search suggests that Shayne may still be in limbo.)
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Old 12-22-2005   #14
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I'm tempted to split this thread into a new "Is There A Sandbox" one but lack the energy, at the moment

Some of what we're getting into has been discussed, and discussed, and discussed. How does Matt's roommate's site escape the sandbox if it hits all new sites? One reason might be that some feel like if you get good links from very trusted sites, bang -- you're out of the sandbox.

Others who don't believe in a formal sandbox but instead in filters that may hold back suspicious content are on the same page. Got a new site? Want Google to know it is trustworthy and should rank well? Pick up some good links.

It sort of comes back to what Dave's talking about. These older sites aren't just doing well because they are actually old. They've established some trust through their age, as well. So if you subdomain, Dave's finding you pick up trust from that domain pretty similiar to what Barry was finding for those making use of the com.uk subdomain. Of course, outing that made it an easy target for Google to discount trust

SEO World Obsessed with Sandbox has Barry talking more about that technique, plus lots and lots of debate on whether there is a sandbox and so on.

Other past threads well worth reading:

Symptoms of Exiting the Sandbox

Compilation of Anti-Sandbox Tactics

Does New Google Patent Validate Sandbox Theory?

Level of Trust for Matt Cutts' Sandbox Explanation @ SES NYC

Filthy Linking Rich

At the point, you've got plenty of search marketers that I trust seeing some type of sandox effect / aging delay and you've got Matt Cutts saying that such things may be happening. Yep, you can't absolutely trust everything a search engine says, but I feel like in this, Matt is simply acknowledging what many people have seen.

So for me, the debate isn't about whether a new site might have difficulties ranking. Yes, they might. The debate is really about whether every new site will have problems ranking. The answer to that I think is firmly no. There is no formal sandbox where every new site must sit things out. There are elements of the ranking algorithm, however, that may make it harder for a new site to immediately take off when compared to the past. However, other elements such as trusted links can counteract that.
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Old 12-22-2005   #15
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OK .. i have been testing something out ..

and if Mike agrees .. that i have the skills has an SEO to rank in the search engines .. then this may shed some light on the sandbox effect

I took two sites ..
one domain I have held no content just a holding page for 2 years (old domain )
one domain I which is 1 month old (new domain)

both domains have got around 500 pages indexed now, seo and linking the same on both .. blah blah

BUT the 2 year old domain gets 45 times more traffic than the new domain, yes both rank for certian terms, but he new domain is missing KEY keyword places, in fact for some keywords it's not in the top 999.

both sites are in the same industry and compete against each other.

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Old 12-22-2005   #16
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example : i will use mikes

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=shayne+ward

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en...+ward+x+factor oops thats missing here

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Old 12-22-2005   #17
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Google seems to give names of people searches different results than just phrases. If you have a new site and mention the site owner on an about us page, for instance, one of the few phrases you can often rank with in Google when you're being affected by the aging delay, is that site owners name.

Beats me how they do it, but it's one thing I've noticed. Now, it could simply be the competitiveness (or lack thereof) but when you view the results, they "feel" different for names than they do for keywords, for whatever that is worth.

I do find it interesting and slightly amusing (when it's not my site) that one day a site is apparently not relevant for pretty much anything that it is related to, and the next it's considered relevant to everything that it is related to. (After a good 9 months have passed though.)
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Old 12-22-2005   #18
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1) Of COURSE Google is rewarding domains with an earlier creation date. DaveN's experiment confirms this, I've done similar experiments with similar results.

2) Of COURSE Google is rewarding sites with trusted links. "TrustRank is the new PageRank"

3) Of COURSE a new site will not have #1, it probably will not have #2, and thus it will not be ranking "like it should".

This is the Sandbox.

And of COURSE the Sandbox has become the catch-all excuse anyone can use for not ranking a new site.

Is anyone really disagreeing here?
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Old 12-22-2005   #19
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Sandbox in the Real World

I disagree with some of Mike's assessment. There is a clear trust/age delay for new sites in Google. You can't just blame it all on bad marketing.

BUT I agree with him that a lot of it CAN be chalked up to marketing. In the real world, authority/branding/trust takes time to build. Why would search engines want it any differently?

Look at Mike Grehan (as a person, not as a Web site). Is he necessarily smarter than anyone else in this thread?

No.

But his SEO career's "creation date" is a lot older than most. Likewise, he has obtained "trusted links" (recommendations) from authorities like Danny Sullivan.

So when he says "there is no sandbox", his statement get blogged on SearchEngineRoundtable. Yet a thousand other SEOs (possibly just as smart or smarter) with less trust, age and authority have said the same thing as him, and no one blogged it.

This is how the real world works, and why should we be surprised when search engine algo's mirror the real world a bit more as time goes on?

Take the age/trust delay, add in a bit of Filthy Linking Rich phenomenon, and of course the optional "bad marketing" and you get this 23-headed monster known as the Sandbox.
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Old 12-22-2005   #20
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Slow day...

...so I'll add my 2 cents.

From my experience there is absolutely some kind of maturing process that "some" sites go through. I don't believe there is a sandbox that everyone must endure, but newer sites do tend to take a whole lot longer to achieve any meangingful rankings - even when they have fantastic content, highly relevant info and are indeed worthy of being #1 for the desired search term.

So I agree with my good buddy, Mike - there isn't a sandbox. But I also agree with Jill, newer sites do often have to wait.
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